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Arabia before Islam

Arabia is a large country whose area is three million square kilometres. From olden times this land was divided into three regions. These were Hijaz, the Arabian Desert and Yemen.
The largest city in Hijaz was Makka and its history dated from the time when Prophet Ibrahim (A) built the Holy Ka'ba with the help of his son Prophet Isma'il (A). Prophet Isma'il (A) settled in Makka. From his descendants there were many Arab tribes. The most famous was the Quraish.
Before the coming of Islam, the Arabs had many bad habits. Some of these were:
They were very quick to start fights and even wars for very small and silly reasons. Some families fought for fifty to hundred years, until they even forgot what the original quarrel was all about.
They did not have law and order. The stronger tribes would think nothing of robbing and killing the weaker ones.
They believed in hundreds of gods, and built little idols to worship. In the Holy Ka'ba alone, they put 365 idols - one for each day of the year.
Women were treated very badly.
One of the most horrible customs of the Arabs was to bury their daughters alive. If they heard that a daughter had been born to them, they would get very angry and take the baby and put her in a grave and cover it up.
The Arabs, however, also had some good qualities. These were as follows:
They never broke a promise and regarded this to be a great sin.
They had great skill in horsemanship and archery.
They were brave people and never ran away from the enemy in war.
They were very good in the art of poetry and had sharp memories that enabled them to remember long verses and speeches by heart.
These good qualities were especially found in the family of Adnaan, who himself was a descendant of Prophet Isma'il (A).
The descendants of Adnaan were very generous. They believed in one God as taught by Prophet Ibrahim (A). Their poetry and speech was better than all others were. Our Holy Prophet (S) was from this noble family. He was from the clan of Bani Hashim, which was part of the tribe of Quraish.
Before Islam, the Arabs had many bad habits: they were quick to start fights, they hand no law and order, they were idol worshippers, and they treated women badly and buried their daughters alive.
The Arabs had some good qualities: they never broke their promises, they were very brave and had skill in horsemanship and archery and they were brilliant poets.
The family of Adnaan had the best qualities. They were generous, the best in poetry and they believed in one God.
The Holy Prophet (S) was from the clan of Bani Hashim, which was part of the tribe of Quraish.

QUSAY SON OF KILAB
Qusay was the fourth ancestor of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (S). Qusay and his brother Zohrah were very young when their father, Kilab, died.
Their mother, Fatimah, married another man, Rabia, who took his new family with him to Syria. Rabia took care of Qusay as his own son.
When Qusay was grown up, there was a quarrel between him and Rabia's tribe. As a result, Qusay returned to his birthplace, Makka. Since he was a good leader, he soon became very powerful amongst the Makkans, and especially the tribe of Quraish.
Qusay was generous and brave and he was popular because he had very good manners and treated people kindly. He became the chief of the Quraish.
One important thing he did was to set up the Daar-un-Nadwa which was a house next to the Holy Ka'ba, where the chiefs of all the tribes would gather to discuss their problems.
Qusay took over all the responsibilities of the tribe of Quraish, which were:
1. Hijaba - In charge of the keys of the Holy Ka'ba.
2. Nadwa - Chairman of Daar-un-Nadwa.
3. Rifada - Feeding of the pilgrims.
4. Saqaya - Supplying water to the pilgrims.
5. Liwa - Appointer of the standard bearer of the Quraish in war.
6. Qiyada - Commander of the army in war.
Qusay died in 5 A.D. and left behind two sons, Abdud Daar and Abd Manaaf.
In his will, Qusay made his elder son, Abdud Daar, the new chief of the Quraish and left the six duties connected with the Quraish to him. The younger brother, Abd Manaaf, was the wiser, but he never tried to take the leadership away from his brother.
After the two brothers died, their sons began to quarrel about the division of the six duties. Finally, it was decided that the duties would be divided between Abd Manaaf's sons and Abdud Daar's sons.

HASHIM SON OF ABD MANAAF
Hashim was the great grandfather of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (S). He had a twin brother whose name was Abd Shams and two other brothers, Muttalib and Nawfal.
Hashim was a wise leader and one of the important things he did was to make a trade agreement between the Quraish and the ruler of Syria. His brothers then made similar agreements with the rulers of Ethiopia, Yemen and Iran.
As a result, goods could be exchanged freely between these countries and the Quraish became rich and powerful. Makka itself became a centre of trade.
In summer the trade caravans went to Syria and in the winter to Yemen. But the trade routes were not safe from thieves on the way. Hashim therefore made a deal with the thieves that if they would not attack his caravans, he promised to sell them his goods at cheap prices. They accepted this offer because it meant that they would no longer be outlaws and could enter Makka without being attacked. Allah mentions this in the Holy Qur'an:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful
For the security of the Quraish.
Their security during their journey in the winter and the summer;
So (in return) let them worship the Lord of this House (Ka'ba).
(He) Who fed them against hunger, and secured them against fear.
(Suratul Quraish 106: 1- 4)
At that time there was a practice of the Arabs known as Ihtifaad. When members of a family could not earn enough to feed themselves, they would leave Makka and go to the desert, where they would live in a tent until they died of hunger and thirst. They thought this action was more honourable than begging.
It was Hashim who told the people not to accept this. He started a scheme, where one poor family was united with one rich one. The two families helped each other in the trading and thus both were in a better position.
Umayyah, son of Abd Shams, was jealous of the respect of his uncle Hashim. He tried hard to make people like him by giving them gifts. However, Hashim continued to attract the hearts of the people by his kindness and good actions.
Finally, Umayyah openly challenged his uncle for the leadership of the Quraish. He wanted them both to go to a wise man and let him decide between them.
Hashim agreed on two conditions. He said that the loser should sacrifice 100 camels to feed the pilgrims in the Haj season and also leave Makka for 10 years. Umayyah agreed to these conditions.
When the wise man saw and heard the two men, he immediately said that Hashim was more fit to rule and so Umayyah was forced to leave Makka. He spent 10 years in Syria. Ever since that day the Bani Umayyah became the enemies of the Bani

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